There were more than one million bookings for a COVID-19 vaccine through the NHS website yesterday (Tuesday 8 June), a record high figure and the first time daily appointments booked through the national booking service have topped the million mark.
The “blockbuster” surge in jabs being reserved yesterday is the latest landmark in the biggest and most successful vaccination drive in NHS history, as the NHS COVID Vaccination programme opened up to people in their twenties and marked six months since the first vaccination was given.
The health service chief exec said the figures appear to have “blown out of the water” the suggestion that younger people might not want to be protected by vaccination.
As eligibility extended to people aged 25 to 29 yesterday morning, a total of 1,082,596 first and second dose slots were snapped up across the day online and by phone, around 45,000 an hour on average and more than 750 every minute, over the full 24 hours.
The daily total for the National Booking Service yesterday means around four times as many slots were booked yesterday compared with the day before and the same day last week.
People in this age group are being texted in stages this week to book their jab, with the initial surge yesterday morning prompting 100,000 bookings an hour between 7am and midday, and labelled a ‘Glastonbury-style’ rush for jabs, by NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens.
Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief executive, said: “Enthusiasm for the biggest and most successful vaccination programme remains strong as bookings for the lifesaving jab reached an all-time high yesterday, and the obvious enthusiasm of younger adults to get their jab has blown out of the water the suggestion that people in their 20s might not come forward to protect themselves and their loved ones.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is still the best protection against coronavirus and as further supplies become available to us week by week it’s great that we’ve seen 25 to 29 year olds sending bookings to blockbuster levels, following hard on the heels of the millions of others.
“Getting the lifesaving COVID-19 jab is the most important thing you can do, so book your appointment and get that vital protection.
“Remember: when you get the text, you’re next.”
Dr Emily Lawson, lead for the NHS COVID Vaccination Programme, said: “Hitting one million bookings in a day sends a fantastic signal that getting the COVID-19 vaccine is something that all of us – no matter our age – can value and be excited by and most importantly should get, when our opportunity comes.
“What I hope and expect we will see in the coming weeks, is that everyone who is yet to book their jab or be invited, will follow the example of the people who seized the moment yesterday, not just by getting their first jab but maximising their protection and making sure they get both doses.”
Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock, said: “Our vaccines are keeping us and the ones we love safe from this devastating disease, and it’s clear young people understand just how vital their contribution is in getting us back on track to normality too.
“The excitement and enthusiasm for the vaccine is remarkable and just goes to show how, as a country, we remain united in our dedication to conquer COVID-19 once and for all.
“Let’s keep up this fantastic momentum – if you’re over 25, get your jab booked in and join the millions protected from COVID-19.”
Ben Davison, Executive Director of Product Development at NHS Digital said: “We’re delighted that the online ‘Book a coronavirus vaccination’ service has hit this significant milestone.
“So far, millions of people have benefitted from being able to book their vaccinations quickly, easily and in an accessible way and this is making a huge difference to the NHS effort to tackle the pandemic – and is saving lives.”
So far the NHS in England has delivered more than 58 million vaccine doses to over 75 per cent of adults.
On Monday 7 June, 279,678 doses were booked through the national booking service and last Tuesday 1 June, 220,956 slots were taken up.
More than half of adults are now fully vaccinated giving them maximum possible protection from coronavirus.
The NHS is vaccinating at the rate supplies becomes available in the run up to the 31 July target of being able to offer first jabs to all adults, as well as having offered second doses to all higher risk groups.
Around 3 million text messages are being sent out over this week to those eligible asking people to book in through the national booking service, with GPs also set to urge the newly eligible to come forward over the coming days.
Text invitations, which do not expire, appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’ and include a web link to the NHS website to reserve an appointment.
When invited, people will be able to book at one of the 1,600 Vaccination Centre, pharmacy or general practice sites across the country that are available through the national booking service. Vaccination centres are also available in convenient locations such as mosques, museums and rugby grounds.